The members of Saving Grace have been diligently working all year to place a sense of urgency into all of their actions. The metalcore Kiwi’s have been relentlessly touring and working on their latest album in 2013, making it their fourth full-length in five years. Their new record, The Urgency, proclaimed their most powerful yet, dives into more serious subject matter than ever before and exemplifies the growth the band has experienced over their careers. We got a chance to talk to four-fifths of Saving Grace about their much-anticipated upcoming release and their powerful message behind it all.
Substream Magazine: Hey guys! What have you been up to?
George White: Working and chilling, just got done recording. Feels good to have the album in the bag.
Nick Tautuhi: I’m off work with an injury at the moment, so I’ve been going through old show DVDs from when we first started, listening to some songs we haven’t played in years and years. It’s fun.
Vasely Sapunov: I’m currently working with our label and management on the marketing plan for the record. So, lots of late nights, press stuff and thousands of emails.
SM: A big part of Saving Grace is your commitment to your religion and a drug-free lifestyle. How does this affect how you write music and tour?
NT: I don’t know, I mean, my faith is pivotal in everything, or at least I like to think so. So it shapes me as a human being on every level, not simply as a musician. As for being straight-edge? It’s just a part of me now, I needn’t factor it in because it’s as natural to me as eating. It just is.
VS: Our faith and our message is the crux of our existence and the reason this band is still here after all these years. Being straight-edge for me personally means I don’t have to deal with hangovers on tour, it allows me to stay focused and clear-headed and if George and Shaun want to drink a beer after the show, Ross, Nick and I can be the sober drivers (laughs.)
Ross McDougal: Promoting a drug-free lifestyle for me, through songs and lyrics, provides purpose and meaning to what we do, which I love. I cannot fathom struggling on the road and the tours that we’ve done without these aspects of our lives and over-arching messages. It’s molded who I am and it would feel like a disservice to promote, anything else.
SM: The band has been together for nearly a decade now. How have things changed from the beginning of your careers to today?
GW: We are definitely more established now, watching our fan base and support grow since back then has been mind blowing. It’s so humbling. And we are also better at writing tough riffs.
NT: Things have changed dramatically in nearly every way. I mean, spiritually, dynamically, sonically, geographically, you name it, it’s different. Ten years ago I was a boy. I’m a married man now. I’ve worked through a lot of my personal issues, things I have written about, I’ve grown and healed and matured and this in turn affects the band.
SM: Your new record The Urgency, is set to release on January 21st. How is it different from your other albums?
NT: Absolutely different. Aside from the fact that we have two new members in the band who bring a plethora of different influences to the table, the subject matter is much more visceral. I mean, I can only speak for my own lyrics, but I have been inspired by some pretty horrifying experiences, from un-dealt-with grief, to addiction, to witnessing a man attempt suicide. This isn’t an album for children. It’s dark and ugly and inspired by real life.
GW: It’s definitely, as far as I’m concerned, our best release. And it shows that in itself. The level of song writing, to the passion and emotion in the songs. We were all writing hard with that word in mind – “Urgency.”
VS: It’s our darkest and most pissed off record without a doubt. It’s angry, hard-hitting and relentless. I feel like it’s a culmination of everything we have ever done over the years, but refined and intensified. It contains the best metal songs we have written, the best hardcore songs we have written and just some of the most dynamically diverse, yet holistically coherent material we have ever recorded. I could not be more stoked with the way this record has come out.
SM: You released the first track off the new record, “1994,” a short time ago. How have fans been responding to it?
NT: People seem to be digging it big time, which is awesome!
SM: Were there any artists or albums that the band was listening to that you drew inspiration from?
GW: Personally, I was listening to bands like Martyr AD and Stampin Ground in preparation to get into writing mode. Relentless bands that sound so raw and intense.
NT: I was listening to a lot of early KoRn stuff, Pantera (as usual), Nailbomb, early It Dies Today, Circle of Dead Children, Misery Index, a lot of Misery Index….
SM: What’s your favorite song of this album and why?
GW: Track 11! You’ll have to wait and hear.
NT: “The Man Who Painted The Pavement.” I wrote that song about the man who I witnessed attempt suicide on Queen Street in Auckland. It really shook me. I actually can’t forget it. It made me really start to think about death and its inevitability and how precious this life is and the fact that we only have one chance at it. Seeing that has changed me a lot.
Musically, it is a masterpiece in my opinion too. George is at his absolute finest. Probably one of the heaviest Saving Grace songs ever, musically and emotionally.
SM: What can fans expect from The Urgency?
NT: To be challenged, hopefully.
GW: The title says it all. The Urgency was thought up in many lights, including how the album will sound. So brew on that.
RM: An honest and straight up representation of ourselves. This isn’t meant to be an understatement; the band has been around for nearly a decade and we’re still here, with the same sound, influences, messages and drive. We haven’t jumped on board trends or sounds and have always stuck to what we want to do. .
SM: Saving Grace is already signed on for some major festivals in 2014 that include Parachute Festival, Easterfest and Westfest. What’s your favorite thing about playing large festivals like these?
GW: Getting to play in front of so many people who might not ordinarily come to see us. Making new fans and friends. Playing with lots of other sick bands! Just the festival experience is cool. Hanging out with your mates over a day or two.
VS: I love playing clubs with no barriers, packed floor shows are my favorite, but playing big festivals is next level and always a lot of fun. It’s always kind of surreal to be on stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people, because it really makes me appreciate how far we have come and how blessed we are to be doing what we are doing.
SM: Which festival has been your favorite to play and why?
NT: Parachute is consistently good to us, great people and a good vibe. Love playing there.
RM: New England Metal & Hardcore Fest, for the great opportunity and being able to play half a world away alongside some amazing bands.
SM: You also just completed your third round of touring in the United States. What’s the biggest difference for Saving Grace when it comes to touring abroad versus your home in New Zealand?
GW: Everything is different! Love the different landscapes, people moshing like weird turkeys, weird food, always eating. Playing more shows back to back.
NT: Well, home is home, you know? I always feel more comfortable in Aotearoa. But for starters, the drives are far, far shorter which I like. But I think each has its pros and cons. I mean, I love meeting new people and hearing about how our music has touched their lives, or rather how God has touched their lives through our music. But the flip side, I hate being away from my wife. So international touring is hard because I know that I’m a bit more than a couple of hours from home. It’s never easy.
SM: On your Facebook, you recently asked fans what other New Zealand bands they’d like to see you go on tour with. Who are some of your other favorite Kiwi bands?
GW: Trepanation is a sick band from Auckland/Christchurch. Horrendous Disfigurement. Ulcerate. Numbskull. Razorwyre.
NT: Out Cold AD, Too Late, Depths and Lookin Up.
SM: What is your ultimate goal for Saving Grace?
NT: World domination. Like Pinky and the Brain.
SM: Anything you want to add for your fans?
NT: Always use sunblock.
VS: Thanks for giving a crap about us to ask us questions! We sincerely appreciate it.
Respect and God Bless.
You can pre-order The Urgency on iTunes now!
Saving Grace Facebook: /savingxgrace
Saving Grace Twitter: @savingxgrace777
Interview by Stephanie Roe